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News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. (CC) (Stereo)




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Us 8, Nici 8, Nicole 6, Seattle 6, Geico 5, America 5, South Africa 4, Nicole Pietz 4, Pietz 3, Lee 3, Obama 2, Citi 2, Bally 2, Hawaii 2, Washington 2, Nelson Mandela 2, Morty 2, David Pietz 2, Harry Smith 2, U.s. 1,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz,  
   Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. (CC) (Stereo)  

    December 9, 2013
    3:20 - 4:01am EST  

indeed, was his spirit that delivered us. and that's what he's brought, is deliverance from ignorance. >> reporter: when you heard, then, finally that he had passed, what was your thought? >> i thought, will i be able to remember all that i've learned from him, from his kindness and his generosity of spirit. will i remember? and i thank god i do. >> reporter: a week will pass, two weeks will pass, three weeks will pass, and a few more will be over and people will stop having this conversation.
>> well, i don't think anybody dies in vain. i don't think so. some of us learn. some of us don't. do you realize what would happen in south africa had there not been a nelson mandela? it would be running in blood. not too long ago, they weren't allowed to lynch a man or a woman, so i don't think nelson mandela's death was in vain. his life was not. i will never be the same. we thank him for coming. we thank him for teaching us. and we thank him for loving us all. all. >> what a reflection. harry smith, your thoughts this
morning. >> a redemptive morning to be able to spend it with maya angelou, but how eye-opening it was to be black and living in south africa. steve beko ends up getting pulled over by the cops in south africa. he's dead 24 hours later. you rick yosk your life just breathing and being black in south africa, and to see this man come out and talk about a teachable moment. >> thank you very much, harry smith. when we come back, we'll talk about other politics of the week. how did mandela's death overshadow president obama's push for obama care this week? plus, have we finally
6 children, 44 years... it's been a happy union. he does laundry, and i do the cleaning. there's only two of us... how much dirt can we manufacture? more than you think. very little. [ doorbell rings ] [ lee ] let's have a look, morty. it's a sweeper. what's this? what's that? [ doorbell rings ] well we'll find out. we'll find out. [ lee ] it goes under all the way to the back wall. i came in under the assumption that it was clean. i've been living in a fool's paradise! oh boy... there you go... morty just summed it up. the next 44 years we'll be fine. morty just summed it up. every day we're working to and to keep our commitments. and we've made a big commitment to america. bp supports nearly 250,000 jobs here.
through all of our energy operations, we invest more in the u.s. than any other place in the world. in fact, we've invested over $55 billion here in the last five years - making bp america's largest energy investor. our commitment has never been stronger. the united states population is going to grow by over 90 ovemillion people,ears and almost all that growth is ing to be in cities. what's the healthiest and best way for them to grow so that they really become cauldrons of prosperity and cities of opportunity? what we have found is that if that family is moved into safe, clean affordable housing, places that have access to great school systems, access to jobs and multiple transportation modes then the neighborhood begins to thrive and then really really take off. the oxygen of community redevelopment is financing. and all this rebuilding that happened
could not have happened without organizations like citi. citi has formed a partnership with our company so that we can take all the lessons from the revitalization of urban america to other cities. so we are now working in chicago and in washington, dc and newark. it's amazing how important safe, affordable housing is to the future of our society. we've all met bill. he shows up once a month asking for money. you can't avoid him, but you can stop him from wasting 150 million pounds of paper every year. ask bill to go online. green bill is much cooler. the more you know.
here now, some of this week's images to remember.
president obama at the christmas tree lighting. back with our roundtable. the politics of the moment is obama care, and the president was out there reselling it this week, katty kay. this is a portion of what he said. >> if i've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what i'll do. that's what we'll do. >> underscoring that this is really the only job he has in his second term, right? >> it may be all he gets done in his second term. if he can make this succeed, this will be his legacy issue. and if you look at the chances of getting immigration reform, of getting some kind of comprehensive jobs bill, of getting some kind of infrastructure, of getting tax
reform which is what businesses say they'll need, he may have to use the next three years to make it work, and this may be what he's left with as his big legacy issue. >> but you write it's not just about the website. there are a lot of challenges ahead about will this thing float? >> the website is not fixed, either, particularly on the backhand. you have to deliver the information to theinsurer and you're not getting accurate information to them. they don't know who is signing up. that's the big problem, young people not signing up right now in the numbers they have to to make this work long term, so you'll see problems with people not just losing their insurance policies but beginning to see what these narrow networks in these new policies. i can't keep my doctor, and by the way, maybe the price is not going up in 2014 by policy but by 2015, and that politics is going to roll out and hurt the democrats. >> going on the offensive as he
did this week, it certainly plee pleases the base. is it enough to change the impression that america has? >> i think as we begin to see people sign up and we see victories. we heard people talk about, i did not have a way out, i had a preexisting condition. we see him going on college campuses, young people are beginning to sign. i think it will be enough because there is nothing that can have glitches and problems forgotten more than success. i think the success of this, notwithstanding the problems and the blunders, this is the first time millions of people that had no opportunity to have health care and to be insured now has that opportunity, and the critics who have presented no way of doing that will not be able to dampen that as that becomes reality. >> tom being up here in new york talking to economic leaders, you see the unemployment news this week, positive. we'll show the chart on the screen showing the arc of it over the course of the obama presidency. it's certainly the right direction, but is it really
turning a corner? do people feel that in a way that he'll get any credit? >> no, i don't think they do, david. i don't think charts give people reassurance, and speaking about health care and the unemployment situation. these are two very dynamic situations that we're face ing this country. a big part of the economy also involves health care. what we don't know yet, despite the president's promises, is not only how the health care industry will respond but what big companies and small companies are doing to see that their best interests are served by all of this, and we can't see how that might play out by the end of his first term. terms of employment. yes, there are encouraging signs that unemployment is going down, but the middle class is still widely separated from the 1% at the top. we know we don't have the skill set in our economy. there is just another report this past week about where america stands when it comes to the rest of the world in terms
of educational skills. we have a lot of work to be done. so these are decimal points we're talking about. it's not really dealing with the larger, big picture issue about the american economy. >> katty kay, a final point on this? the president talked about a higher wage hike this week, and it's just not going to happen. it's not going to happen if you look at the current political climate. so a lot of these things still go unaddressed. >> he was out making a political pitch this week, but you have individual states, individual cities that are doing things on the minimum wage, but we have the prospect of unemployment benefits being rescinded the beginning of next year. that could again have another knock on effect of growth if people are not getting that kind of money. the underlying issues of this economy are still fragile at the moment, and the political consensus in washington to really shore things up, to do the things that are necessary, is not there. >> we're going to leave it there for today. thank you all so much.
it was great to have you here. that is all for today. one program note i want to share with you, be sure and watch today in "nightly news" with brian williams. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." she's gone missing. we are frantic.
calling. all of her friends were calling. we think that that sort of thing happens to other people. >> it's the most frightening thing in the world. >> a young wife. >> she always saw the good in people. >> she had a way to make you smile. >> missing for nine days. >> it's so wrong and nicole is somewhere where she shouldn't. >> it was hard enough when they didn't know. much worse when they did. >> it came over the tvs that a bod he been found. i'll never forget that as long as i live. >> one mystery solved. another just beginning. what had happened to nicole? >> this could go down any number of paths. had her troubled past caught up with her? or was it something much darker? >> to told me that he would put it in her red bull. >> how did she change? >> she became more sexual with people. >> who wanted her dead?
>> he thought he was somewhat of a player. >> did it make him a killer? >> i'm lester holt, and this is "dateline." here's dennis murphy with "secrets in seattle." >> seattle was raw after a week of relentless winter rain. a woman lost had been found in the tangle of the blackberries. a naked body, a small tattoo on the back, a necklace and signs of strangulation. the detective sent to a patch of trees and boggy undergrowth near the seattle airport's runways guessed it was her. they would soon be proved correct. nine days to find her, the answer to where, another seven years still ahead to answer the questions of all homicides who and why.
>> but we have to go back before the crime scene photos and the medical examiner's findings, before she became the chilly words, the victim, to find the dearly loved person named nikki, wife and daughter, sister and friend. >> she seemed to be able to uplift people in ways that none of us knew how to do. >> she had a way to make you smile. she had a way to let you know that everything was going to be okay. >> gail was her mother. >> she was sunshine. she was the kind of person that when she walked in a room, the room lit up. >> gail raised nikki and her sister tonya in the suburbs of seattle. there were carefree days at the nearby lake. >> is nikki your annoying kid sister or pretty cool kid? how do you remember her? >> very annoying kid sister. mom insisted on dressing us like
away. >> in high school nikki was a friend to everyone. >> every day eating lunch together. she never sat. she would walk around and visit with people. she always saw the good in people. she didn't see the bad in people. >> after graduation, any can i brought that winning spirit into the workplace, eventually landing a plum position in the head offices of bally total fitness. kimberly thomas was on her team. >> she was great. she cared about how your day was, cared about how you were feeling and about your birthday. >> bally's is where nikki met another employee, david peeks, 6 feet tall, four years younger and exuded a smooth confidence. his co-workers recall he seemed to be going placed. >> he was definitely a very nice man, easy to talk to, would laugh a lot. he was actually a very compassionate person. he was very confident and spoke
well. he had a presence cha demanded attention. >> dave was set on selling more gym memberships than everyone else and he wouldn't deny what everyone saw in him. he was ambitious with eye on bigger prizes. >> dave could sell reading glasses to a blind person. it didn't matter what his pitch was, he had you convinced that whatever it was you had to have it. >> so this was dave hustling on the sales floor and there was nikki the buttoned up blond and the boss' favorite hire was acknowledged. before long nikki and dave became an item. >> she definitely would get a little bit of a bounce in her step when she got an incoming message from dave. >> out of everybody he chose her. that has to make you feel kind of special. >> pretty soon nikki and dave moved in together. gail remarried and moved to arizona with her new husband ron, and she could tell by the sound of her daughter's voice on
the phone that nikki had found the one. >> he was her dream man. >> really? >> he was the man she wanted. she was so in love with him. >> and he apparently with her. evidence to her friend and family by the piece of jewelry she was rarely seen without. >> david got her a little tennis bracelet. >> diamonds on it. >> yeah. >> little teeny diamonds and white gold, i think. >> did she like it? was it a sentimental piece for her? >> she loved it, wore it everywhere. >> another piece of jewelry from him would follow, a wedding ring. after dating for two years nikki and dave married. >> tell me about the wedding. hawaii was the place. >> it was in hawaii. she looked so beautiful and happy. they both had lais, beautiful flowers in her hair and on the beach with the waves crashing at sunset. it was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. >> and was your sister a happy young woman on that day. >> yes. i think she found her prince
charming. >> she seemed to be confident and was stepping no her grownup life. loved her ring and her bracelet that he got her and she was excited about getting a new condo and having her own little family. >> january 28th was a saturday. after a hectic work week, nikki and dave would chill with a dinner party over at their friend's play. that afternoon dave called nikki to hash out details. they would drive there separately. >> hey, babe, give me a call. need to know if i'm stopping to get food for ellen and jason and stuff like that. give me a call, bye. >> but when dave pietz showed up at their friend's apartment that evening, nikki wasn't there. one hour, two hours and still no nikki. dave's waive of almost four years wag gone into the night, into the rain.
>> what on earth had happened to nikki pietz? >> nikki's life hadn't always been so good. she had had a troubled past. had that's troubles finally caught up wh her or was it something else. >> did you think something was wrong, that something was wrong right from the beginning? >> yes. hoo-hoo...hoo-hoo. hoo-hoo hoo. sir... i'll get it together i promise... heeheehee. jimmy: ronny, how happy are folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico? ronny:i'd say happier than the pillsbury doughboy on his way to a baking convention. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
nicole pietz, a woman just shy of her 33rd birthday, reported missing by her husband. >> we just want to know she's safe. >> david pietz told reporters how he waited for her with friends at a saturday night
dinner party. she was a no-show. >> when i got there, she was not there, and hadn't heard from her and hadn't been able to contact her. >> david appealed to the public to keep an eye out for her. >> >> we want her to know we love her very much. >> nici's mother knew. >> she is not somebody that doesn't come home. if she is ten minutes late, she calls you. >> did you think something was wrong right from the beginning? >> yes. because nici wouldn't have gone away without calling and telling me. >> if nici could have called somebody, she would have called gayle. >> nicole's mother and stepfather had reason to be worried. they, along with nici's other family and friends, remembered another time years before when they had almost lost her. nici had been in her teens when she began suffering from abdominal problems, related to the onset of puberty. her medical issues left her in agonizing pain and also heavily medicated. >> she had very painful cramps and was prescribed lots of medicine for them.
>> and by the time she was 21, she had had three surgeries. pain pills being thrown at her, right and left. >> at some point, it seemed all those pills took away not only the pain, but the person. zombified. >> how was she different? >> just spacey, couldn't keep up with the conversation. i felt like i lost her. she wasn't really there. >> before nici could crawl out of her hole, she would need to check into a local rehab center to treat her addiction. >> when she finally got clean, i felt like i had my sister back. >> that's when she started working at the bally gym office. her co-workers thought she was in terrific emotional shape. >> the nici that i know wasn't in her dark days. the nici that i knew was on top of her game. >> and yet friends like michelle baltz knew nici took her sobriety a day at a time and was terrified of making one slip and losing it all.
>> she would tell you she had a headache and trying to get the girl to take an advil. you would think you were trying to inject her with heroin. >> nici's weekly alcoholics anonymous meetings, an hour's drive of her home, were the rock and foundation of that daily conscious effort. and on saturday morning, january 28th, she was supposed to attend a very special meeting. a celebration to honor her for eight years of sobriety. >> every year, it's your birthday. and it was her eighth birthday. >> as being a clean and sober woman. >> yes. she was so proud of it. we were so proud of her. everyone was proud of her. >> honey, it's mom. i don't know where you are, darling. >> but nici never showed up to that important meeting. never received her award. and now, friends and family desperately tried reaching her by phone. >> hi, nici. this is rod calling. we don't know what's going on. >> their pleas relegated to the silence of voicemail. the anxiety level went off the chart.
>> no matter what happened, nici, even if it was a relapse, we want you to know that we love you. >> had nici, in fact, fallen back into addiction? >> i started hoping that. because then she would have been alive. >> the alternative that nici may be dead somewhere was too much to bear. a bulletin went out. be on the lookout for a 5'3" woman with a tattoo on her back. friends knew she would likely be wearing a cross necklace and a diamond tennis bracelet. nine days later, king county detective, kathleen decker, was dispatched to an area near seattle's sea-tac airport, south of the city. >> the call came in from my sergeant, requesting i respond to this location regarding a woman's body. she had been found by a passerby in the blackberry bushes. >> this is kind of off the grid right here. >> yes, it is. >> a woman's body discovered in a nothing patch of scrub at the
end of a runway near an all but abandoned trailer park. >> what did you notice about the body? >> first thing i noticed was she was nude. the second thing i noticed, her arms were gently across her chest. >> not just a body abandoned. >> correct. she had not been discarded like garba garbage, but she had been gently placed into and under the vines. >> the detective had a special set of skills she called on now. she had been trained in tracking, reading trails, disturbed vegetation, just like the scouts in the old west. the pattern of broken branches and tamped down leaves and soil told her that the body had lain out here about a week. >> is there anything that suggested to you why this woman would have been abandoned here? >> no. and that was part of the complexity of this investigation. we had all sorts of avenues that we needed to investigate. we had the transient population that may have been frequenting the trailer park. we had a mental health facility that was very close by, within
walking distance. >> but detective decker did have a strong hunch about who this victim was. the cross necklace, the tattoo. it all checked out as that local woman, nicole pietz, who had been missing for a week. the diamond tennis bracelet she always wore was not on her wrist, but police were confident enough in their tentative i.d. to pay a visit to nicole's husband, david. and the information david pietz would soon share with detectives about when his wife was last seen and what she left behind would be critical to the case. >> but it was something that was missing that turned out to be even more important, and puzzling. >> there's no indication that anyone else had been behind the wheel of nicole's car. >> when "dateline" continues.
with a great many bad days, one of the worst ones had to be the day she was found. >> oh. i'll never forget that as long as i live.
>> found strangled. >> it came over the tv that a body had been found, and we just knew that it had to be her. >> had to be your nici. >> yeah. >> nicole pietz, strangled to death. her nude body left for a week beneath some blackberry bushes by the airport. the killer unknown. her gray jetta still missing. her family's deep sorrow, now hardened into resolve to get justice for her. >> find out who did it, and punish him. punish him. >> to begin, the lead detective now assigned to king county's newest murder case, jesse anderson, set out to learn more about the victim. he paid a visit to her husband, david pietz, at the condo he and nici shared. >> how long have you been married? >> almost four years. >> david agreed to be audio taped and told detectives that
nici had struggled with chemical dependency in the past. he then revealed something disturbing. recently, nici had again started taking prescription pills. >> is nici still struggling with addiction? >> i thought she wasn't. but she hurt her back right before thanksgiving. she slipped the disk. >> because of a severe painful back injury, david explained, nici had reluctantly agreed to let her doctor put her on a carefully monitored prescription for percocet, a potentially addictive narcotic drug. >> at first, she had me keeping the pills and giving them to her. >> investigators wondered, had nici's old demons pulled her down again? they delved into nici's last known movements. >> when is the last time you saw nici? >> friday night when i got home from work. she was asleep in bed. >> david pietz told detectives that nici was sleeping when he arrived home late friday night. and by the morning, she was already gone. off to her special aa celebration, he assumed.
>> i just remember thinking that must be where she must be when i woke up. >> when she didn't show up at the dinner party that night, he returned to their condo to look for her. he described how her purse, car keys and gray jetta were gone. but he said something else caught his eye, and it would turn out to be a big clue for detectives. nici's vial of percocet was sitting out on the counter. the bottle was empty. the 56-pill prescription filled just two days before, gone. >> i found the pill bottle and i freaked out. it was a little scary to think she relapsed. that's a lot of pills. i thought maybe she oded or something. >> as detectives wrapped up the interview with the husband, a narrative was starting to come together about the victim, of a former addict, possibly readdicted. >> how does that change the complexion of the investigation early on? the woman whose body has been found was a recovering addict and maybe fell off the wagon? >> well, it makes it far more complex for us, because now we have to consider the possibility
that she met up with the wrong person at the wrong time, and that somehow led to her demise. that this was somehow related to the people that she knew through her aa affiliation. which she was very much into, and regularly attended those meetings. >> so doors are opening a possibility. >> yes. >> rather than closing. >> yes, yes. >> some old-fashioned gum shoe investigative work would have to come next. tracking down phone records, credit card statements. anything to pinpoint where nici may have headed after leaving the condo saturday morning. only one more blip on nici's time line surfaced. a single phone call made around noon on saturday from her cell phone to the gym's front desk while david pietz was working. >> it's possible that she was driving, and hit one of the towers there, so we were considering that. we were also considering whoever killed her may have had her phone and was still using it. >> as for that diamond tennis bracelet missing from nicole's wrist when they found her body, the cops began checking pawn
shop records, in case someone had tried to hock it. nothing. >> a police officer spotted nicole pietz's car overnight. >> the last major piece of the puzzle turned up two weeks after nici disappeared. her car, a gray jetta, had been found abandoned in a parking lot in seattle's university district. forensic technicians hungry for clues crawled through the car. they noticed the driver's seat had been pushed back, but it's what they didn't find inside it that intrigued investigators most. >> what was found in the car was david's dna, along with nicole's dna. there is no indication that anyone else had been behind the wheel of nicole's car. >> detectives were now wondering. wondering about the husband. >> coming up. he was definitely a player. >> dave chased women inside the club, outside the club, on side of the club, on top of the club. >> but did that make him a killer? of all the places in your house... ...this one's the busiest.
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